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January 22, 2019

Nairobi rush to cash in on Lupita Nyong’o Oscar win

Tropez restaurant.
Tropez restaurant.

On March 3, which was designated by AU Summit (February 2012) to celebrate Wangari Maathai Day, Nairobians woke up to the news that one of their renowned daughters, Lupita Nyong'o, had won an Oscar award – best supporting actress, for her role in 12 years a Slave; a movie based on the period before slavery was outlawed in the USA.

This is a coveted award; and even if she won it for being the best coffee maker in the movie, we would still have celebrated her in a big way. Only a handful of Africans have been nominated for this prize, and she was the first African-American woman to take home the gong.

As Nairobians went viral with the news and took to social media with their congratulatory messages, I observed something else; some enterprising Kenyans are still in a state of euphoria and have already begun to strategise on how to cash in on Lupita’s success.

By now, you must have seen bootleg copies of everything she has ever done being sold in the streets. The illegal recordings range from 12 Years a Slave movie, Kenyan TV series- Shuga, an MTV Base Africa/Unicef drama about HIV/AIDS prevention; and her documentary, In my Genes, about the albinos and how they have been sidelined.

Expect more in the bootleg copies; her plays at the phoenix as well as photo shoots…. In fact, expect Nairobian girls who look a little like Lupita to star in locally produced movies and drama series such as The Real Lupita of Nairobi, likely to be released soon.

With the local TV stations witnessing the proliferation of those kinds of material, they will not be left behind either. We all know that Lupita was born in Mexico, when her parents were in exile.

For this reason, the media will have enough confidence to start classifying their soapies, imported from Latin America, as ‘local content’; after all, Lupita is a Kenyan bred in Mexico.

Kenyan TV producers will believe they have all it takes to compete with their Mexican counterparts on an equal footing. Some will be bold enough to start giving their TV series colourful names like La Mujer De Homa Bay or Passionita Ya Chepkemei.

The city will be awash with Lupita brands; folks will be donning T-shirts emblazoned, ‘I acted with Lupita,’ ‘I dumped Lupita', 'I don't care!’ or ‘Oscar husband material’ while attending social functions that attract huge audience.

I fully expect to see Nairobi streets flooded with Lupita dolls without official endorsement of the actress. You can expect to see those ‘quail eggs Sh20 call 07xx xxx xxx’ posters around town quickly being replaced by ‘Lupita Dolls Sh250 Call 07xx xxx xxx’ very soon.

The sports fraternity will not miss out on the craze. As you are aware, many Kenyans support the big clubs in English Premier League, especially Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

On Lupita's night of glory, she was in a dazzling sky-blue gown, as she walked on the red carpet, which she labelled ‘Nairobi Blue’; it reminds her of Nairobi's blue skies. Some soccer fans, will shift their support from other clubs to England Manchester City, whose colour is sky-blue.

The players’ jerseys will not only be worn by best performing KCSE students, but also by many other Kenyans, as a small way of supporting our Nairobi Blue girl.

The beauty industry in Kenya is on the rush to cash in on Lupita wave. Beauticians by now know her beauty regime and will use it as a selling point; they will recommend the same to their customers, with a promise to transform their looks to that of Kenya’s latest heroine.

Barbers who operate under trees and those popularly known as ‘Kinyozi wa stima’, will now have a new hair cut, ‘Lupita Look’- which is set to become the girls’ in-thing.

Those in cosmetic business are set to rake in millions and millions of shillings as women flock in to buy products used by Lupita. And the gym membership? It will go through the roof as women join in their large numbers for ‘Lupita Workout’ to have Lupita’s muscular arms.

Ultimately, the win for Lupita is a win for all as there is something for everyone who has been following her rise as a global star. We salute you Lupita Nyong'o.


Tropez Restaurant, Moi Avenue, Nairobi

There used to be a popular bar and restaurant on Banda Street –Tropez –that closed down and was replaced by another one – Tribeka. Initially, I assumed Nairobi bar owners have taken on rebranding, to keep up with time.

I was however surprised to see Tropez Restaurant sign when I was on Moi Avenue on Friday evening. Interestingly enough, the pub is now where Pop In right arcade was, next the Bookpoint bookshop.

For those who can remember, the arcade was at the basement, so I had to go downstairs. The restaurant is not ideal for those in wheelchairs. The place is one large room with a DJ booth to the left of the entrance and a bar counter to its right.

Before settling down, I used their washrooms, which I found to be very clean, as I had been drinking somewhere else. The problem is that, to get to the loos, one has to use a narrow staircase, which cannot be used by physically challenged people. I ordered a cold Tusker, which was retailing at Sh200. I am now resigned to buying beer in the Central Business District at these crazy prices.

The joint has various seat arrangements; some are at the centre with tables and others, which appear more comfortable, are in booths. The pub has big TV screens mounted on the walls and the DJ spins quite good music. On weekends, people flock to the joint to watch games.

The punters here are mainly lads and lasses. I would not want to be caught up in the place in the event of danger, as there is one entrance and exit.


A quick recap of the venue

Good: Central location, nice décor, excellent service, clean washrooms, big TV screens.

Bad: No ramps, no emergency exits. 

My verdict: A good place to have a cold beer in town.


The writer can be reached on twitter @jamesmurua

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